The benefits and pleasures of working on a Hawaiian farm are many. Beautiful sunsets, sweet fragrances, clean food, gorgeous landscapes, perfect weather; all are among the wonderful experiences we are blessed with at Gingerhill.
One of the more practical benefits of working and living on a Hawaiian farm is the access to medicinal plant substances it provides. Virtually every plant that we grow boasts nutritional and medicinal benefits. Even a few days’ worth of farm-fresh mealsÂ on our Hawaiian farm proves rejuvenating and revitalizing for our workers and guests. Below are seven of the most beneficial medicinal plants that we grow here on our Hawaiian farm.
The fruit of the papaya plant is sweet, juicy, and refreshing. It also contains papain, an enzyme that aids in the digestion of proteins and thus eases digestive distress while promoting regularity.
Unlike papaya fruit, papaya seeds are bitter and spicy. However, they pack a surprisingly powerful medicinal punch for those willing and able to stomach them. Like the fruit of the papaya, papaya seeds contain the enzyme papain, enhancing digestive efficiency and nutrient absorption. The papain in papaya seeds is also incredibly effective in killing harmful worms and parasites. They are anti-microbial and anti-fungal, too, and therefore work to kill harmful bacteria and fungi in the digestive tract. In so doing, papaya seeds promote a positive microbial balance that, in turn, maintains the integrity of the intestinal lining and thereby decreases the odds of developing debilitating inflammation and leaky gut. They also help to treat candida overgrowth in the intestines.
Papaya seeds are an incredibly effective detoxification agent. Just a tiny spoon of these powerful seeds protects the kidneys from oxidative stress, preserving the body’s ability to filter and excrete harmful toxins. Papaya seeds are great liver detoxifiers as well, and they can even be used to treat liver cirrhosis.
By now, you’ve probably caught word of the powerfully anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric. Its healing properties are predominantly attributable to its high concentrations of an antioxidant called curcumin. Studies demonstrate that concentrated doses of curcumin are as effective at treating pain and depression as hydrocortisone and Prozac, respectively.
In recent decades, holistic health practitioners have begun to discover that inflammation lies at the root of most chronic diseases. In dramatically reducing inflammation, turmeric aids in reducing symptoms of heart disease, neurodegeneration, metabolic diseases, chronic fatigue, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses.
Turmeric also contains high concentrations of a range of other antioxidants. These antioxidants work in tandem to prevent free radicals, molecules that disrupt the proper functioning of proteins, fatty acids, and DNA, from generating oxidative stress, thereby reducing free radical damage to prevent premature aging and cancer. It also increases the activity of the body’s endogenous antioxidant enzymes, launching a two-pronged defense against free radical damage and, in turn, inflammation.
Finally, turmeric increases levels of Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor, or BDNF, in the brain. BDNF is a hormone that encourages nerve cells in the brain to multiply. In increasing levels of BDNF, turmeric effectively reduces the risk of developing both Alzheimer’s and depression.
Honohono grass, which grows like wildfire on our Hawaiian farm during the rainy season, is a nuisance in Hawaii. But, to the surprise of many, it’s also a medicinal plant. Recent studies are only now confirming what Hawaiians have long known of the benefits of honohono. These include its efficacy in treating bleeding and dysentery. It also inhibits the proliferation of harmful pathogens, and may therefore prove effective in promoting healthy microbial balance and warding off disease. Feeding honohono to your livestock, like we do to our pigs, is a great way to keep them happy and healthy.
Noni, or Indian mulberry, is simultaneously venerable and infamous. That’s because it boasts both a broad array of powerful health benefits and a putrid smell that renders it unpalatable to most. Those that can stomach noni, though, stand to benefit significantly. If you can’t consume the fruit, don’t fear; almost every single part of the noni plant has a medicinal application.
Noni is a potent analgesic, proven to function as well as hydrocortisone in reducing pain. It’s also anti-inflammatory, effectively treating aches, pains, and arthritis. Hawaiians use noni to treat everything from eczema, ringworm, colds, and flu, to diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Noni is an effective treatment for an array of conditions because it is anti-viral, anti-parasitic, and anti-bacterial. It also stimulates the immune system to produce more lymphocytes, white bloods cells that produce antibodies to fight harmful antigens, regulate the immune system, and kill cancer cells. It’s concentrated levels of nitric oxide and phytochemicals even reduce cancer growth.
Finally, noni can do wonders for mental health as well. Noni increases the production of serotonin, relieving distressing conditions like depression and anxiety. It also encourage the production of melatonin, which promotes sound sleep and, in turn, allows the body to recover from daily stress.
Mamaki is an indigenous Hawaiian pine tree. The dried leaves of the Mamaki tree create a medicinal tea that has become quite popular on the islands.
One of the reasons that Mamaki is so popular is because it is said to be beneficial in mitigating the negative impacts of vog. Mamaki cleanses the blood and tissues and supports healthy liver, colon, and bladder functioning. Thus, the tea effectively supports the elimination of vog-derived toxins from the body. It also lowers high blood pressure and cholesterol. It is particularly beneficial for the mind, reducing symptoms of anxiety, depression, exhaustion, and irritability.
Mamaki’s benefits primarily derive from it’s high levels of catechins and chlorogenic acid, powerful antioxidants contained in Mamaki leaves. They also contain rutin, a polyphenol that also occurs in high concentrations in lychee.Â Rutin supports Vitamin C production, enhancing immunity, and collagen production, promoting healthy hair, skin, and nails. It also strengthens blood vessels and is therefore critical to cardiovascular health.
Ginger is one of the most versatile plants on our Hawaiian farm. The root of the Ginger plant is incorporated into everything from teas, stir fries, and candies to shampoos and cosmetics.
Ginger’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties derive from a natural oil called gingerol. This medicinal oil helps to relieve motion sickness and nausea, particularly morning sickness. It also reduces muscle soreness after bouts of intense exercise and relieves pain associated with osteoarthritis. Ginger can even lower blood sugar and heart disease risk factors and combat colds and flu.
Ginger is a digestive aid. Not only does ginger relieve nausea; chewed raw or boiled into a tea, it stimulates digestion and relieves constipation. Ginger’s digestive-enhancing properties are the reason it is heavily incorporated into Eastern medicine. To increase your intake of ginger, try boiling the root into a tea or adding fresh pressed ginger juice to lemonade. You can also add ginger to stir fries and incorporate the ground up root into desserts.
Aloe is best known for its ability to relieve sunburn. However, aloe is excellent for treating a broad array of conditions, both internal and external. Aloe heals burns 9 days faster than typical burn medications, but it is also great for moisturizing skin and preventing aging. It contains powerful antioxidants called polyphenols that not only protect against free radical damage, but also prevent bacterial infection. Swishing aloe around in your mouth kills bacteria that causes bad breath and can be useful in treating canker sores.
You can also take aloe internally. Beware, though, that aloe contains naturally occurring latex. Though this latex may be beneficial for those seeking relieve from constipation, it is note safe for those who are sensitive or allergic to latex. Aloe helps to soothe the digestive tract, relieving intestinal upset. It can even improve insulin sensitivity, preventing the violent blood sugar fluctuations that lead to energy spikes and crashes.